1980s Vintage Computers

NEC PC-8001

The  PC-8001 series was launched by NEC of Japan in 1979. It was developed from their earlier TK-80 hobbyist system, and was followed by the PC-8801, PC-8001 Mk II and led to the PC-6001 series.

I have a PC-8001BE, this is an English-language version for Europe (similar to the PC-8001A for north America).

The specifications for the main computer are:

  • Z80 compatible (µPD 780) processor
  • 32K RAM (around 25K free)
  • 12K ROM with full Microsoft BASIC
  • full sized keyboard with numeric pad
  • monochrome and colour video out
  • cassette interface
  • printer interface
  • I/O expansion

This machine was a big seller in Japan, and NEC made versions of it for the world-wide market including the UK. However it didn't sell well here against the main market leaders, such as Tandy, Commodore, Apple and Sinclair. I don't have any manuals or software for it, so please email me if you have any for sale or to share.

I also have a PC-8012BE I/O Unit and PC-8031BE & PC-8032BE floppy drives, but have yet to find the right cables to connect them up.

The PC-8012BE I/O Unit connects to the back of the PC-8001 via a ribbon cable carrying the microprocessor bus. Inside the PC-8012 is a motherboard with seven slots, into which memory or interface cards can be plugged. My unit came with only a 32K RAM card, this has jumpers for the start address.. The PC-8012 also provides an interface to NEC's floppy disk units. It has its own built in power supply, as do the floppy drives below.

The PC-8031BE floppy disk drive is an intelligent unit, that is it contains its own processor and floppy disk controller. It contains two single-sided floppy drives (Teac FD-50A).

The PC-8032BE is a dumb unit, in that it contains two floppy drives (also Teac FD-50A), with a ribbon cable to connect them to the controller in the PC-8031. I think my example has been used on a BBC computer, as it came with a lead that fits the Beeb's floppy disk connector, but I haven't tried this out.

NEC PC-8001 links


This page was last revised on: 23/02/13